College Softball Season Is Here
Many former OnDeck players are making their college debuts, and we get to see them finally realize their dreams. All of them hold a special place in our softball family. However, there are two players who have chosen different college paths; San Diego native Alyson Dibsie who will suit up for Lehigh, a Division 1 school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Bay Area native Briana Perez who will suit up for perennial NCAA powerhouse UCLA.
One of the most striking memories of Alyson was at the 2015 June Jamboree. Without question, Alyson is one of the most caring people I have ever met. On this particular day, she was doing her thing behind the plate and having a sensational day in front of 150+ coaches. However at one point, another catcher was struggling with her throw-downs to 2B. After a third or fourth missed opportunity, Alyson trotted over and asked me if we could stop for a minute. She then went up to the other player...put her hand on her shoulder and whispered some thoughts to her, then jogged off. The other player immediately relaxed and took care of her business as we moved on. Alyson is set to play her first collegiate game in two weeks at the Citrus Classic. Alyson will be backing up a four year starter who hits fourth, so she will get limited catching opportunities for the time being. But in the words of Head Coach Fran Troyan, they have to find a way to get Alyson in the everyday line-up.
Unlike Alyson, who went across the country to play, Briana Perez is just 7 hours away from home at UCLA. I have vivid memories of this skinny 7th grader going thru the paces at the 2011 West Coast Elite Camp. Already, she was showing signs of being a special player. Standing next to and playing against others who would become some of the greatest players in the college game, Briana held her own. Two years later at the 2013 West Coast Elite Camp, she was given one of the highest compliments I think I have ever heard a major college coach give a player – “Briana Perez is redefining the shortstop position.” Briana is replacing All-American, USA Team member and former OnDeck camper Delaney Spaulding. UCLA is hosting the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament this weekend. Briana will start at SS, hit leadoff, and play next to 2009 West Coast Elite camper Kylee Perez, her older sister. Head Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez says she is thrilled with Briana and is really excited to see both Perez sisters play next to one another and hit #1 and #2 in the line-up.
Both Alyson and Briana are getting ready to embark on what is sure to be a wonderful four year experience. Both will experience struggle and triumph, but will be stars before their senior seasons. One will have to be patient while the other will burst upon the softball scene.
At the start of every season, we are reminded of the beauty of OnDeck Softball, watching players across the county fulfill their dreams. We can never be thankful enough that we get to meet these players...watch them grow into accomplished and strong young women. Good luck to all of you starting your college softball careers...enjoy it!